Nigerian agri-tech startup ThriveAgric is taking part in the 24th edition of the Silicon Valley-based 500 Startups accelerator programme, which invests US$150,000 and offers hands-on training and mentorship.
500 Startups is one of the world’s most renowned accelerators, having worked with over 2,000 startups from across the world, and its 24th startup accelerator kicked off at the end of September.
A host of African startups have been accepted onto its programmes in the last few years, including Egyptian startups Shezlong and Harmonica in batch 23 and three from Nigeria in batch 22, but ThriveAgric is the only one from the continent to make the cut for the latest four-month accelerator alongside 21 other companies from countries such as the United States, Chile, France and Hong Kong.
ThriveAgric, which earlier this year was amongst the 12 startups selected to participate in the first Google Launchpad Accelerator Africa programme, uses a crowdfunding platform to provide farmers with the finance they need to grow their businesses, and offers ordinary people the chance to invest in agriculture.
Launched publicly in early 2017, the platform is designed to crowdfund investments for smallholder farmers and provide it to them in the form of inputs, tech-driven advisory and access to markets.
Farms are listed on the platform, complete with details of what it takes to fund a unit, such as an acre of rice or 100 chicks, the length of time until return, and the returns themselves.
Subscribers can then fund these units by paying online, and receive regular updates on what is happening on the farm, from planting to harvest. They can receive their funded sum and any returns after harvest. The funds are used to purchase inputs, buy insurance, and market the produce.
Thrive Agric raised funding from the Abuja-based Ventures Platform accelerator last year, and is now actively working on expanding to other markets. It has a 40:40:20 profit-sharing model, with 40 per cent of profits going to farmers, 40 per cent to subscribers, and the startup taking the remaining 20 per cent.